Sitting in the cold sterile hospital room waiting for my doctor to come speak to me, I remember the night you were conceived. Your father and I had recently reconciled.
Your grandfather had passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack four months earlier. The night before Papa’s funeral, your Dad, who has never handled stress or loss very well, announced he was leaving me after the funeral. The sudden death of his Dad was telling him that there was something wrong with his life and we weren’t meant to be together.
Don’t try to make sense of that. I lived through it and I don’t completely understand his thought process. At this point, four years into our relationship, I knew that when your Dad was upset the best thing I could do was assure him that I was there if he needed me and give him space. Hovering and expecting him to talk through it like my girlfriends and I did wasn’t going to help either one of us. But, even I was surprised by his bombshell announcement.
Several months passed before he returned asking for my forgiveness. On the night you were conceived, we were still in the honeymoon stage of our reconciliation. When your father left the room to freshen our drinks, I lay there in the candlelight and conversed with God. I knew I was ovulating I told him and as I speak sperm is racing to my unfertilized eggs. You have what you need to make this happen, but please only let this happen if I’m going to have a happy, healthy baby. If I’m not going to carry full-term then don’t let this happen, I pleaded with him. My prayers have long been conversations with God more often than the formal prayers of my Catholic upbringing. When I missed my period, I knew that my prayers had been answered. That and the incredible exhaustion.
In the months that followed, your father and I chose your name Kendra Raye after your two grandfathers. Or Isaiah Ray had you been a boy, Ray being the middle name of your Dad and his Dad before him. And, we planned your life. There would be ballet classes and softball, picnics at Pope John Paul Park, summers at the beach, girls’ days at the salon with me, your aunt and cousins, your father would braid your hair, and I would be in charge of your religious upbringing – Catholic with a healthy dose of Southern Baptist.
In my second trimester, we started telling people other than family and the closest of our friends our news. We followed the conventional wisdom of waiting until after that second trimester mark. Most miscarriages happen during the first trimester.
When I got ready for work and my doctor’s appointment that morning, I was feeling lucky. The signs of my pregnancy were there – your father lovingly observed how my shape had changed and my stomach hardened. I felt good, hungry and tired, but good. I was loving being pregnant. I was not waddling but walking protectively – my arm always in front of my growing belly as I maneuvered crowded subway platforms or walked down stairs.
So often when bad news is coming, we are unaware that it lurks around the corner. And that was the case that morning. I was excited for my day ahead of me while admittedly annoyed , actually downright angry, with your father because he wasn’t going to the doctor’s appointment with me.
The doctor finally comes into the hospital room to talk with me. His face shows no emotion. “Lynne, we are sorry, “ he starts, “something went wrong, your baby is no longer moving. We believe the baby, your pregnancy is no longer viable.” I am left alone to compose myself. The room is colder now and I am angry, angry at God, angry at your Dad while at the same time happy that he is not there exploding as each of the doctor’s words cut into my heart.
I call one of my sisters to tell her … I scare her with my unintelligible words. I can’t breathe, I can’t utter words, all I can do is cry. She offers to call your father for me – I ask her not to. I don’t want to go home. Yet, I can’t stay in the hospital room crying forever. I must go home. The doctor asks if I am safe at home fearing that the reason I don’t want to go home is domestic violence. I tell him that I am safe. I don’t want to go home and break the heart of the man I love, I explain. Telling your Dad what the doctor told me is without a doubt one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.
I was supposed to return to the hospital the next day so that they could start me on a round of drugs that would induce a miscarriage like the morning after pill. My sister tells me that I should wait, when she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, the baby stopped moving for several days but she was fine. Her doctor, who is one of the top OB-Gyns in the country agrees to see me on that Friday. He advises me not to get my hopes up, but that there is a possibility my doctor is wrong and he is willing to give me a second opinion.
I go to work the day in between trying to act normal. It is fruitless. I sit at my desk and cry. I explain it to my boss and leave early that day after my closest co-workers and I cry in the ladies room.
The morning of the appointment for my second opinion, in the shower as my hand brushes across my stomach I notice it is no longer hard. I know this means I really don’t need a second opinion. I go anyway. As the doctor examines me – the nurse notes that there is no firmness. I know this means my fears are true; they send me for an ultrasound.
My body holds on to you, refusing to expel your remains from my uterus. For a week, I fear waking up in blood or starting to miscarry at work. Nothing happens. It seems to me that you and I are in denial, paralyzed by grief we can’t let go of each other. My new doctor schedules me for a DNC. The emotional pain is unbearable.
I am not sure how or why your father and I made it through this – each of us handling our grief differently. He could not look at me – he stayed out as much as possible. All I wanted was for him to hold me and cry with me. Instead, I cried alone as I consumed equal amounts of chardonnay and chocolate (M & M’s from the Nescafe jar full of candy coated chocolates that my Mom sent me home with). Ironically, I gained more miscarriage weight than I did pregnancy weight.
A decade has since passed and there remains a hole in our lives that you were meant to occupy.